Friday, August 23, 2019

#FridayFlash - Initiation Rites

The ritual was completed exactly as required. Seven candles burned. Seven bells were rung. Seven circles were cast. Seven initiates waited on their knees.

"Witness us, gods of the dark," intoned the high priest. He stood at the altar, athame in one hand, wand in the other. "Judge the readiness of these supplicants. Embrace those that you find worthy. Cast down those too weak to enact your schemes."

He turned to face the gathered initiates. Four young men, three young woman, all shaved bald, all naked and gaunt. The high priest's eyes locked with each of them as he spoke, voice low and ponderous. "Once you don the robe, you will no longer belong to the outside world. You will be one of us, forever more."

She cringed beneath his heavy gaze, sure he stared at her the longest. He'd always judged her the most, taunted her more than any of the others, tested her harder.

Memories of home rose in her mind's eye. Her mother, her sister. Fresh baked bread. Cream from their cow. Herbs drying over the hearth. Laughter and song and cheer.

Her father's hand, cruel and hard. Vicious words from the town priest. Nights of hunger, winters of fevers. Baby siblings dead in their cribs.

She's the first one to rise and claim a dark robe.

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